Algeciras promotes stargazing using real-time monitoring of the night sky

Challenge & Context

There can be few more enticing places in Europe than Spain when it comes to star gazing. Astro tourism is flourishing in a big way and Spain gives astronomers a better chance of a clearer sky than many parts of Northern Europe due to larger rural areas far from light pollution. And, because of Spain’s latitude, the equatorial constellations are higher in the sky than in Northern Europe.


In 2020 Green Globe, winner of the FIWARE ZONE IOT Challenge, proposed a series of measures to meet the needs of the challenge:

  1. A FIWARE-based solution for data storage as well as a web portal for data visualization.
  2. To carry out a series of activities to stimulate the sector and generate a series of reports and studies to understand the initial situation of the municipality and propose the best changes in public lighting.Sensor Network.
  • All Sky Camera
FIGURE 1 . Sky Quality Measurement Station — Night Eye
  • Cloud detection. By means of an infrared sensor and a thermometer, the Night Eye validates the night sky quality measurements by detecting whether the sky is cloudy. This feature is of great relevance because sky quality measurements are only valid in clear skies. Cloudy skies cause light reflection and alter the sky background brightness measurements.
Figure 2 . Itinerary Sky Quality Map
Figure 3 . Initial Light Map

How it works

The data is communicated to the system via MQTT, and with the IoT Agent, the data is written into the system. For the historical data, a Time Series Database (TSDB) is used, which is ideal for this type of task. The Generic Enabler used for this solution, therefore, is FIWARE’S Quantum Leap enabler, but there is the possibility of also deploying FIWARE’S Cygnus.

  • A web-based command portal for report generation
  • A series of tools (scraper) for the inclusion of third party data, such as weather or forecast data.
Figure 4 . Architecture
  • Integration of external data sources such as weather forecasts, air quality (in cases where there is a station that publishes open data) etc. to recommend the areas with the best sky quality for astronomical observations.
  • Historical measurements taken by each Night Eye installed, including (maximum, minimum, averages) by days, months, years.
  • Information to also raise public awareness of the importance of preserving the quality of the night sky for social, environmental and economic improvement and which actions can be taken to reduce light pollution.
  • Generation of a reference site for astro tourists to find astronomical observation sites, weather forecasts and activities related to the preservation of the quality of the sky.
  • Database of companies and institutions that carry out activities related to astro tourism, rural lodging, guides specialized in astro tourism, astronomical associations, etc.
  • Communications Center of the project where various promotion activities related to astro-tourism are carried out in Algeciras.
Figure 5 . Graphical User Interface

Benefits & Impact

The implementation of the light pollution measurement network has made possible to:

  • establish and prioritize lighting management actions to reduce the impact of light pollution in the municipality;
  • provide sky quality indicators to measure its evolution;
  • Algeciras has more than half of its territory protected by natural areas of high environmental value. Having a measurement network to measure the impact of light pollution is of high value not only to improve the natural darkness of the sky but also to undertake actions to promote tourism based on astronomical observation. This segment of tourism complements eco tourism which the municipality of Algeciras has been promoting in recent years;
  • This solution positions the City of Algeciras as a reference in the implementation of sustainable lighting by projecting future changes based on night sky quality data.

Next steps

The City Council of Algeciras has launched investments in public lighting renovation projects, with the co-financing of 80% of the European ERDF fund. These are two major actions:

  • Creation of a working group. A working group coordinated by Green Globe and the City Council of Algeciras will be created, inviting companies from the tourism, environmental and scientific sectors. The main objective is to boost collaboration and promote joint tourism actions in relation to the potential of astro tourism in the municipality.
  • Outreach activities on sky quality and astro tourism. Outreach activities will be carried out for all citizens regarding the quality of the sky and astro tourism. We will work with the Malaga Astronomy Society to carry out astronomical observations in places in Algeciras and contact other astronomical associations in the Campo de Gibraltar area.

Authors & Contributors

Javier Pedraza
CEO at Green Globe
Contact @


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